One to watch for 2019: King Princess
20-year-old Mikaela Straus known by her stage name King Princess is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, New York. She is signed to Mark Ronson’s Zelig records, an imprint of Columbia and her debut was the first song to be released by his label. KP spent much of her childhood with her recording engineer father Oliver Straus, the son of Isidor and Ida Straus who both died in the sinking of RMS Titanic. In her father’s Mission Sound studio she learned bass, guitar, piano and drums as well as production. She began making “angry, punk-ass shit” when she was still a child, inspired by the rock music she was raised on – Led Zeppelin, T. Rex and Jack White. She declined a record deal at the age of 11 to focus on school but dropped out of University at the age of 18 to focus on her music career.
On her debut song “1950” KP talks about how “Queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time, expressed in society through coded art forms. I wrote this song as a story of unrequited love in my own life, doing my best to acknowledge and pay homage to that part of history. KP has also specifically cited the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith as an inspiration of the song: “I was reading a lot of gay literature and there was one book, The Price of Salt that really stuck with me because it’s just a beautiful story, and I think what I loved about it was it took place in the ‘50s and the way that queer people were allowed to be public was so censored it and it was all about body language and this kind of icy interaction because you had to hide yourself and so I was interested in the parallel between the metaphor of 1950 being how queer love looks in public and how it’s very similar to having a very cold relationship. The song reached a wide audience when Harry Styles tweeted the lyric “I love it when we play 1950” and the song has already led to KP being hailed as a gay role model for her young fans. Straus identifies as genderqueer and gay and is currently dating actress Amandla Stenberg.
As of the start of 2019, King Princess has a 5-track EP “Make My Bed” and her latest single “Pussy Is God” which has already reached 7 million streams on Spotify alone. She also covered the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale”,where she puts her own twist on the classic song, giving it a modern feel with crisp, clean, soft vocals against a minimalistic airy synth background. She also has a punchy cover of the White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Girl” for Like A Version, a tribute to her punk childhood roots. KP’s full-length studio album is set to come out very soon, stay tuned!
Written by Tilda Gratton